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Any smart phone that you use is loaded with sensitive data that includes passwords, logins, personal texts, photos, and so much more. All of this has to be removed from your smart phone safely if you are putting it up for sale. In this case, the standard method is opting for factory reset to wipe the phone’s entire memory and restore its default settings.
However, there is a growing concern in the Android community that the conventional factory reset just isn’t enough. This has been backed by a recent study that reveals how sensitive data can be dug up from ‘wiped’ devices. This includes the login credentials to your Google account.
The main problem here is the flash memory which only limits the number of times a memory block is overwritten. Hence, factory reset means that your data while removed from the frontend; is still available for overwriting in the backend, to prolong the hard drive use.
Through a series of database recovery processes and tools, researchers from Cambridge scanned a supposedly wiped phone and the blocks of hard drive that are defined as logically empty. As a result, they were able to recover passwords, photos, chat logs, and much more. In other words, factory reset wipes your data but doesn’t go all the way, leaving your phone criminally exposed!
While flash memory is not relatively new, its consequences are enormous to say the least. The scary part is that once you log into a mobile app, your phone will maintain the login credentials with the local authentication token, which is basically a password only your phone knows. Now if those tokens fall into the wrong hands, your sensitive data is exposed, and even a factory reset won’t help you save it!
As a quick fix, encrypt all your phone data before deleting it. If you are using Android 3.0 or higher, simply go to Settings>Security>Encrypt Phone!
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